Education

About 40 people rallied to save the former Incarnate Word convent on Sunday, April 19, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Bowing to protests from its north St. Louis County neighbors, the University of Missouri-St. Louis has backed away from plans to demolish the former Incarnate Word Academy convent on its campus. Instead, UMSL said in a statement Monday, it plans to consider other options for the property over the next three to six months, although a spokesman added that the campus does not plan to spend any money on whatever project results from its study. “After conferring with several community leaders...

Saint Louis University President Fred Pestello addresses students at the university's Clock Tower last August after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Saint Louis University

When Fred Pestello began his tenure as Saint Louis University’s first lay president last July 1, anyone involved with the school may have said his biggest task would be reuniting the campus after a tumultuous time under the Rev. Lawrence Biondi . Critics of the former president said his style of making decisions without consultation led to no-confidence votes in his leadership. But when it comes to Pestello's leadership style, the critics are silent. Rather, they have praised Biondi's...

File photo

Updated at 4:10 p.m. with Nixon news conference: Gov. Jay Nixon said Friday he is vetoing this year’s attempt at a school transfer bill because it doesn’t solve the problems of unaccredited Missouri school districts and it creates new difficulties for public education. At Ritenour High School Friday afternoon, he called the bill "a leaky lifeboat on a stormy sea." He said it grew from a reasonable attempt to fix problems with the transfer law into a bloated bill with expensive voucher schemes...

Gov. Jay Nixon's criticism of the legislature was relatively low key. 5.15.15
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

Updated at 9:30 am on Friday, June 6. Missouri Gov . Jay Nixon plans to veto this year’s version of a school transfer bill, legislative sources said Thursday. Nixon had planned to make a formal announcement of his decision Friday morning in Springfield, Mo., but that stop was canceled because of weather. His office said he still is expected to visit Ritenour High School in north St. Louis County Friday afternoon. Word of his planned veto was first disclosed by the Springfield News-Leader...

Gov. Jay Nixon announces a plan to help Normandy and Riverview Gardens schools. Behind him, at Bel-Nor school, are from left Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson, Webster Groves Superintendent Sarah Riss and Missouri education Commissioner Margie Vande
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov . Jay Nixon says school districts that have received transfer students from Normandy and Riverview Gardens will begin an unprecedented effort to help those schools in a variety of ways, from lowering the tuition they charge for transfers to providing training, tutors and other assistance.

Peter Herschend
DESE website

JEFFERSON CITY -- When Peter Herschend joined the Missouri state Board of Education in 1991, schools in the state were rated in three ways – A, AA or AAA. But the rankings weren’t based on detailed accounts of how well students were doing in the classroom. Instead, Herschend noted in a recent interview, the factors that went into the classification ranged from salary structure to secretarial personnel to how many fire escapes the buildings had.

University City School District Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt (center), seen here at a district work session, will retire at the end of the 2015-2016 school year after nine years in the post.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

University City School District Superintendent Dr. Joylynn Pruitt will retire at the end of next school year, according to an announcement released Tuesday. Pruitt has spent eight years so far at the head of the U. City schools, and said by the end of her ninth year, it will be time for someone else to take the district to the “next level.”

Tom George, Chancellor of UMSL
Alex Heuer

Despite a 10 percent decline in state funding since 2010, the University of Missouri-St. Louis continues to excel in offering top-tier educational opportunities for its students, UMSL Chancellor Tom George says. He told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh that the university is undergoing a slew of capital constructions including: Making $2 million bond payments on the university’s $32 million science learning building over the next 30 years Construction of a $17 million optometry clinic on...

Andrea Terhune
Normandy website

JEFFERSON CITY – One year after the Missouri state Board of Education dissolved the old Normandy School District and put an appointed board in place to run the new Normandy, state board members say a credibility gap still exists between Normandy residents and state education officials. And that gap could grow, with the announcement Tuesday that the president of the appointed Joint Executive Governing Board, Andrea Terhune, is resigning for personal reasons. She is leaving the board as of July...

Andrea Terhune
Normandy website

(Updated 2:51 p.m.) JEFFERSON CITY — Andrea Terhune, president of the joint executive governing board for the Normandy schools, has resigned for personal reasons from the board effective July 6, announced Missouri's commissioner of education. Margie Vandeven made the announcement during a discussion at a meeting of the state board of education about the progress the Normandy Schools Collaborative has made in the past year. Terhune became president of the board earlier this year when Charles...

Alex Heuer

According to studies, minorities are the most underrepresented when it comes to careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls, a STEM college preparatory school set to open in the fall of 2015, hopes to change the course of that statistic by preparing minority students for STEM careers while providing a single gender school setting. Mary Stillman, the schools’ founder and executive director and a graduate of an all-girls school, decided to open the...

Rhonda Broussard
St. Louis American

(From the St. Louis American, updated 4:30 p.m. Monday) Shocking many parents and students, the St. Louis Language Immersion School Board of Directors announced Saturday that they have replaced school president Rhonda Broussard, who founded the charter school in 2009. “This transition has been under consideration for some time,” wrote School Board President David Luckes in a letter to the school community. “The board and SLLIS’s extended community are grateful for the work Rhonda Broussard has done over the years to build SLLIS from the ground up.”

File photo

Updated at 8:30 p.m., June 11: Encouraged by a projected balance of at least 7 percent of the total budget at the end of this school year, Normandy school officials say they will have enough money to operate for the entire school year that begins in August. At its meeting Thursday night, the district’s appointed Joint Executive Governing Board approved a resolution designed to dispel concerns about Normandy’s ability to survive the year financially, despite the costs of tuition and...

Judy Baxter, via Flickr

The rationale for a new collaboration between public school districts in the St. Louis area and Missouri’s association of charter schools can be summed up in five words: Charter schools are public schools.

Principal GeNita Williams presents certificates to eighth graders at Normandy Middle School
Dale Singer | St. Louis Public Radio

The promotion ceremony for 205 eighth graders at Normandy Middle School featured the usual words of encouragement and advice, plus memories of the past three years and more than a few hoots and hollers from family supporters. But first, they got an apology. Mike Jones, vice president of the Missouri state board of education, told the students that he realized the efforts by education officials in Jefferson City to help Normandy haven’t always succeeded. The district remains unaccredited and...

Field of students at a graduation
j.o.h.n. walker | Flickr

An NPR report shows Missouri's high school graduation rate increased five percentage points between 2011 and 2013, good enough to rank 10th in the country. But that number may not tell the whole story. The Truth About America's Graduation Rate looks at factors affecting the graduation rate around the country, and why the national rate of 81 percent — an all time high — may not be as good as it seems. Missouri's graduation rate in 2013 was 86 percent. Meanwhile, Illinois' rate was 83 percent...

St. Louis Public Schools students thank Jack Taylor and family.
St. Louis Public Schools Foundation

A philanthropic family that prefers to remain low-key is making a high-profile statement to help underserved communities and St. Louis-area youth. The family of Enterprise Holdings Founder Jack Taylor is donating $22 million to several charitable and educational organizations throughout the region.

Normandy Middle School
Normandy website

In their continuing struggle to raise test scores and regain accreditation, leaders of the Normandy school district have stressed a positive message: high expectations, strict standards, no excuses. But students at the often-troubled Normandy Middle School have learned a different lesson.

Normandy Superintendent Charles Pearson agreed to a list of principles to reduce suspensions on Saturday, May 23, 2015.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

High school students with Metropolitan Congregations United are calling for a reduction in out-of-school suspensions in area schools. They presented data and recommendations for change Saturday to a group of about 40 educators and community members. The group, called Students 4 Change, highlighted a recent UCLA report , which found that Missouri suspends more African-American grade school students than any other state in the country. Three St. Louis area schools in particular were singled out in the report: Normandy, Riverview Gardens and St. Louis Public Schools.

Images from the "Hearts for Ferguson" project
Great Circle

After Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson last summer, and unrest delayed the opening of classes in the Ferguson-Florissant schools, the district wanted to make sure students had help handling their emotions, so their learning wasn't affected. It turned to Great Circle , a social service organization with roots going back to the 19 th century. Great Circle and the school district already had begun working together in 2013 to provide counseling for students. So at the start of this...

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Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri’s education commissioner said she is optimistic that Normandy schools will have enough money to remain open for the coming school year, but the final recommendation will come from the district’s appointed governing board. Commissioner Margie Vandeven made her comments after members of the state board of education strongly criticized the education bill now sitting on Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk. However, they stopped short of calling on Nixon to veto the bill. Board members...

teacher in classroom
U.S. Department of Education

Lloyd Little spent more than three decades in public education in outstate Missouri, so he knows how difficult the job of a substitute teacher can be. But in retirement, that hasn’t stopped him from taking temporary gigs in classrooms in the Parkway school district.

Entrance to Normandy High School campus
Google Maps screen capture

After conducting a nationwide search, the Normandy school district announced Thursday night that it was naming interim superintendent Charles Pearson to the position permanently, effective immediately. “We were confident in Dr. Pearson’s abilities when we hired him as the interim superintendent in January," said Robert Ryffel, who led the search for the Joint Executive Governing Board. "And a national search confirmed our belief that he is the best candidate to continue to lead the Normandy...

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Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio

To improve student achievement, the interim superintendent of the Normandy school district wants to move sixth graders to the elementary school, concentrate on “career exploration” at the smaller middle school and possibly reopen a closed school as a kindergarten center.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

Proponents of a fix to Missouri's student transfer process scored a victory last week when they passed a bill that addresses the problem. Among the options parents would have to educate their children are expanded opportunities to enroll their children in full-time virtual schools. But the new potential new choices are raising questions about who will make sure that virtual schools are up to snuff. State law already requires that virtual schools — which do not have brick and mortar buildings and offer classwork online — have to meet a list of qualifications that includes having Missouri-certified teachers and offering courses that align with state curriculum standards. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, said the legislation doesn’t make clear whose job it is to ensure virtual schools are following the rules.

In many ways, Missouri youth match the national averages in terms of lost opportunities to get ahead, a new study shows.
Judy Baxter, via Flickr

The Webster Groves school district is working to cut $1.6 million from its budget for the coming year and abandoning plans for free full-day kindergarten and other programs, but Superintendent Sarah Riss insists that education for its students will be as good as ever.

Adjunct instructors at Webster University have lost their bid to join a union. However, both the adjuncts and university officials who campaigned against the union say they will keep discussing the issues that prompted the effort.

Incoming Westminster College President Benjamin Akande accepts a school T-shirt from Molly Dwyer, president of the school's student government association, as retiring president George Forsythe looks on.
Westminster College

Benjamin Akande , dean of the business school at Webster University for the past 15 years, will become the 21 st president of Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., on July 1. At his introduction to the campus community in Fulton on Friday morning, Akande pledged to lead the 164-year-old school “from success to significance” on a broad scale.

Asia Slaughter (L) and Judith Cochran (R) joined "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh.
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Judith Cochran joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss “ Conscious Choice, ” a program sponsored by the University of Missouri- St. Louis. The program focuses on encouraging teen girls in at-risk environments to delay motherhood and graduate from high school. Participating teens that complete the program are recognized and rewarded with various gifts, including scholarships to UMSL. Asia Slaughter, a former mentee, also discussed her experience in the program. Slaughter...

Flickr

Updated 9:20 a.m., Thurs., May 7 with comments from Education Plus -- Even though it doesn’t make changes in student transfers that could save Normandy from bankruptcy, several education groups urged Gov . Jay Nixon Wednesday to sign the school bill approved by the Missouri legislature because it expands options for students in failing schools.

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